Monday 20 November 2017

HRI chief defends Dundalk closure

Damien McElroy

THERE won't be any additional meetings arranged for Dundalk's all-weather track in the near future, according to Horse Racing Ireland Chief Executive Brian Kavanagh.

The ultra-modern venue just off the Dublin-Belfast motorway, to which HRI contributed €11m from their Capital Development Fund, has been closed for horse racing since November and is not due to host the first of its 2010 meetings until February 26.

Dundalk's expensive Polytrack surface is being utilised on an almost daily basis by trainers from either side of the border to keep their horses in work on the flat, with their home facilities frozen over.

However, Kavanagh ruled out "any knee-jerk reaction" to the winter wipe-out of turf action in this country by staging a mixed flat and bumper card at the venue.

"There are no plans to review the Dundalk all-weather situation at the moment, as replacing the five jumping meetings lost so far is the priority now. Trainers and jockeys looked for a winter break in the flat season and there's no overwhelming demand for a bumper card there either," he said.

"Furthermore, we've seen quite small entries for bumpers lately. We have five bumpers gone at present, but 30 jumping races as well, and we have been rearranging some of those fixtures for later in the month."

"Everything will be kept under review, including why close Dundalk at all during the winter. But that's a debate for another day."

This week, the Irish Bookmakers Association reacted to the ravages of the cold spell by calling for Dundalk to be re-opened.

The IBA claimed: "Each Irish meeting held during the winter is worth approximately €1.8m to the industry and helps support over 5,000 jobs in licensed betting offices as well as contributing taxation to the exchequer."

Irish Independent

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